The Roseau, Lake of the Woods and Koochiching Counties have had some informational meetings around the areas to discuss CRP and the MN Buffer Law and how CRP can work with the MN Buffer Law. Even though the meetings may have been held outside of the county you reside in, these options apply to all landowners regardless of what county your land is located in.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) option that is administered by FSA is a consideration for landowners. Once you have a CRP contract in place, you will be in compliance with the Buffer Law provided the contract is in place prior to the November 1, 2017 for public waters and November 1, 2018 for the public ditches. One thing to keep in mind is that the CRP program is a Federal Program and the MN Buffer Program is a state program. This is important because you will need to follow the rules that are in place for the program you choose.
The CRP program offers landowners an annual rental rate for 10 to 15 years. Rental rates are determined by your 3 most predominant soils. There is also cost sharing available to help cover the seeding expenses for the buffer practice. Incentive payments are also available for eligible practices and landowners. The CRP Buffers must have a 30 foot minimum and a 120 foot maximum. Contract holders CANNOT hay or graze the CRP buffers.
When considering the width of your CRP Buffer, there are some considerations one should take a look at such as, where are your tile intakes? If your tile intakes are 40 feet from the top of the ditch and you put in a 30 foot buffer, you will only have 10 feet to work around the intakes and most equipment is larger than that. Consider using CRP to square up your fields. FSA can take average footings if no point along the ditch is less than a 30 foot buffer and no point along the ditch is more than 120 feet. This may also help eliminate point rows. If you are looking at using buffers for livestock forages, CRP is not the program for you. Haying of CRP is NOT allowed.
If you are taking a hard look at using CRP to buffer your public waters or ditches, we suggest that you start making applications as soon as possible. The last Farm Bill reduced the number of acres that can participate in CRP and that cap of 24 million acres is close to being reached. So the sooner an application is made, the better your chance of getting your CRP acres.
As we move into spring, farmers get busy preparing equipment for spring work and planting, I want to remind you that FSA also needs to be on your schedule for spring. Operator and owner changes need to be made now, bring in any leases or copies of deeds for newly purchased land so the proper names can be in place. Also, I want to remind you that enrollment in the 2017 Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will run through August 1, 2017. We ask that you don’t wait and please come in soon so that you can complete enrollment before you get busy this spring and before you come in to certify this year’s crops. If you separate these two tasks, farm program sign-up and certification of acreage, the time spent at the office will be reduced and often times will be completed with more ease. Fewer tasks to complete at one time will simplify the process for both you and the staff.